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Debt is nothing new to most Americans. In fact, DebtConsolidation.com’s guide shows that, about a third of Americans have debt in collections. So, if you’re in debt, and you feel like you’re alone, don’t worry… you’re not! There’s another common misconception associated with debt that needs to be debunked. That misconception is that if you’re in debt, you have to deal with the harassment associated with debt collectors looking to cash in on money you simply don’t have!
Introducing The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Debt collectors have gotten out of hand in the past, and chances are that they will do so in the future. That’s why, on September 20, 1977, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created. Essentially, the act was a set of regulatory rules with regard to how debt collectors can legally go about collecting debt before it becomes a harassment issue. Since its creation, the FDCPA has been amended, but its sole purpose has never changed. That purpose is to protect the rights of borrowers. Here are the most important ways in which the FDCPA protects borrowers:
- When Collectors Can Call – You may think that debt collectors can call whenever they want to. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, unless you agree to it, debt collectors are not allowed to call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- You Can Make Debt Collectors Stop Calling – While it’s a good idea to talk to a debt collector that calls you at least once to get an idea of why they’re calling, you can actually force them to stop calling you at any time. All you need to do is tell them in writing. When doing so, write a letter telling the collector that you do not want them calling you anymore. After making a copy of the letter, send the original draft via certified mail and pay for a return receipt. This gives you the ability to document that you told them to stop calling and puts them on notice that you’re not playing any games!
- How Collectors Can Go About Collecting – The FDCPA also provides for a slew of ways in which collectors cannot try to collect. For instance, harassment, including threats, publication of debts to the public, obscene language and repeatedly using the phone to annoy borrowers is illegal. Also, collectors may not use false statements, use statements insinuating legal repercussions or move forward with otherwise unfair practices in the collection of a debt.
What To Do If A Collector Has Broken These Laws
If a debt collector has broken the rules with regard to the FDCPA, you don’t have to sit back and accept the harassment. Instead, you can fight back. To do so, start by contacting the debt collector in writing stating the ways that they have broken the law according to the FDCPA and demand that the harassment comes to an end. Usually, this will be enough to silence collector for good. However, if it’s not, it’s also not your last step.
If the debt collector ignores your requests to end harassment in the attempt to collect a debt, it’s time to move on to further action. First and foremost, give the Attorney General a call. If you’re not quite sure who the Attorney General is in your area, here’s a great resource for figuring that out.
Once you’ve reached out to the Attorney General, if the harassment continues, it’s time to reach out to an attorney. That’s right, there can be monetary repercussions to debt collectors that don’t follow the rules, and if your rights have been ignored, an attorney can help you sue for damages. A great way to find an attorney to help is to call the state Bar in your area. Every state Bar will have an attorney referral service that is free to use and will point you in the right direction.
When you’re in debt, you may feel as though collectors are free to do as they will until you pay. However, that’s not the case. By knowing your rights, you can be sure that debt collectors don’t ignore them. So, if you’re being harassed, today is the day to put an end to it!